Today, when work stress on the rise, it is quite important that individuals are able to use some tools as preventative. The separation between home and work is far less today than before due to all this technology & flexible work hours. This can add more strain to everyday life as you are never quite sure when you are at work and when you are not.
Mindfulness can reduce stress, depression & anxiety and furthermore work as preventative. In addition, it doesn’t take too much of your time on a busy day. You can even use it at the workplace itself without a huge cost.
Here are some different exercises that you can start with to become more present and thereby reduce stress:
1) Being here and now. You can start your workday with the goal of being totally present. For example, if your work requires that you document something, try to devote your entire attention to that documentation. If some thoughts come up (for example, remembering to reply to an email), you can imagine that the thought is like a car passing by quietly. You do not have to respond to the thought because you are being present in the documentation right at that moment.
2) Stop multitasking and start single-tasking. Many individuals multitask and feel that they are more productive when they do. Unfortunately, research has shown that the brain has difficulty constantly shifting focus to new tasks. Try to do one thing at a time and do that thing properly and then start the next one. This point is very much related to point 1.
3) Active listening. When talking to a colleague for any reason, try to practice listening actively to that person. Use all your senses to listen and notice how that person is talking and feeling. Use your curiosity and openness without judging.
4) Focus on your breathing. If you feel stressed or overwhelmed, try shifting your focus to your breathing. If your mind is racing and you are having a hard time quieting the mind, try saying to yourself “now I am here”. When you focus on breathing, here and now, your mind cannot be focusing on all the other tasks that you should be doing. Most stress thoughts have to do with the past or the future and if you are present you cannot be in the past or the future.
On that note, I want to mention some benefits of being more Mindful in the workplace:
– Better communication
– More productive
– Better management and stronger teams
– More robustness
– More confident about change
– More creativity
– Better in making decisions
– Less stress
Start practicing today to be as present as possible. Remember that it takes time for the brain to quiet the mind and being present. Don´t give up. Only 10 minutes a day can reduce stress & anger and in addition effects joy and motivation.
However, if you are already experiencing severe physical & mental symptoms of work stress/burnout I advise you to seek help. The sooner the better.
Picture by Snæþór Sigurbjörn Halldórsson